Irish Brigade

The story of the 38th (Irish) Brigade in the Second World War

5 Northamptonshire Regiment


11th May.

Camouflaging of equipment and tentage was carried out.

Parties from all coys proceeded on day pass to Naples.

During the day, coys practised locating and lifting minefields.

1730 CO held O Groups at Bttn HQ.


12th May.

0930 CO addresses the bttn giving details of the offensive launched the previous night from the Cassino sector to the coast near Minturno. He then touched briefly on several roles, which the Division might be called upon to assume as the battle proceeded. At the close of the address, the CO read a message from the Commander in Chief Italy. General Sir Harold Alexander GCB CSI DSO MC. Immediately after this talk, the CO held O Groups at Bttn HQ. Bttn at 4 hours notice to move.

1130 The ADMS visited bttn.

1200 All full rank NCOs with the exception of CQMSs attended a mine clearing demonstration at 11 Brigade HQ.

2030 A mobile cinema unit gave a show in the camp area.


13th May.

1140 Commander, 11 Infantry Brigade, visited Bttn HQ and inspected the Bttn HQ Guard before leaving.

1830 All full rank NCOs visited 11 Infantry Brigade HQ to inspect a replica of wire as used in front of the Adolf Hitler Line.

2000 Warning order. Bttn to be prepared to move by 0600 hrs 14th May.


14th May.

0630 Harbour party left Bttn HQ for new location.

0900 Bttn moved by TCVs, route road junction N 1679, road junction H 0903.

1000 Convoy halted at H 0505.

1200 CO held ‘O’ Groups, immediately after CO and party proceeded on recce.

1700 Move was resumed and harbour area at 8716 reached by 1830 hrs. Bttn HQ was established at 877167.

2130 After visiting Brigade HQ, CO held O Groups at Bttn HQ; orders were issued for the bttn to move by 0645 hrs 15th May.     


15th May.

0700 Bttn leave harbour area and moved over the Rapido river by march route to 858175. Conditions were very misty, particularly near the river. Bttn continued to move forward by stages and Bttn HQ were established at 846176 by 1230 hrs. B and D Coys moved to 847179 in preparation for an attack, with tanks of 17/21 Lancers in support to secure the line of the road 8317.

1230 -1330 Bttn HQ area was shelled every few minutes but no casualties were sustained.

1345 D Coy reported being on the left of their objective. Soon afterwards, both coys secured their objectives despite heavy mortar and MG fire. B Coy consolidated at 839181 and D at 833174. Tac HQ moved up to 842178 and C and A Coys began to move forward. A Coy established positions at 839176 but C Coy were held up 200 yards from their objective at 838179 by enemy fire.

Enemy mortars were extremely active, firing on numerous targets in the bttn area.   

2100 One salvo from Nebelwerfers fell around Tac HQ causing several minor casualties. Enemy mortars also fired at frequent intervals around the same area. The day’s casualties were 1 Officer (Major RW Cook MC) and 1 OR killed, and 12 ORs wounded.  73 prisoners were taken.


16th May.

0230 C Coy reported to have occupied the house they had been unable to occupy the previous afternoon at 836179.

0300 A small enemy patrol of five men succeeded in taking two men of C Coy prisoner but the enemy in turn were captured by D Coy and our men released.

Enemy mortars fired continually throughout the night, particularly on Tac HQ and B Coy areas.

0900 B Coy reported having located an enemy anti tank gun at 838183. This was engaged and knocked out by a Bttn 6 pounder anti tank gun.

1200 Vibration caused by shelling in close proximity to Main HQ, 846176, caused a wall and floor to collapse burying 3 men in the room beneath. Though they were dug out as quickly as possible, 1 OR 5885891 Cpl Houghton did not survive.

Enemy mortaring and shelling was on a heavy scale throughout the day.

1845 The enemy launched a counter attack against a bttn on the right of the bttn, accompanied by heavy concentrations of mortar fire on all our forward positions. The attack was beaten off with the aid of tanks and the situation had returned practically to normal by nightfall. During the day, A Coy moved forward to 830183 and B Coy to 837183.

Casualties during the day were 3 ORs killed and 14 wounded. 49 prisoners were taken.

The 1 East Surreys and 2 Lancashire Fusiliers passed through our positions.    


17th May.

Occasional enemy shelling was experienced during the night.

During the day, A Coy moved into C Coy’s area at 836177. Coys spent the day preparing defensive positions astride road 8317.

Enemy shelling and mortar fire were on a greatly reduced scale, due in some measure to the use of smoke shells on Monastery Hill and numerous smoke generators placed in between the Rapido River and our forward positions, which effectively screened the bridgehead area from enemy observation.

2330 A force, estimated between 12 and 15 enemy aircraft, attacked transport concentrations in the vicinity of the Rapido River and started several fires. One stick of bombs fell 400 yards from this HQ (846176). One JU 88 was shot near B Echelon.

Six prisoners were taken during the day and 7 casualties sustained.



       

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